Sunday, June 14, 2009

More Clutha River wanderings

When the sun looked like dissipating the inversion cloud this morning I packed a lunch and Dougal and I headed off for a walk, heading yet again on further personal exploration of the Clutha River near home.

Looking west towards Black Peak and Treble Cone, while we walked in hope of the cloud letting the sun shine on us...

Further downstream past Reko's Point, and looking south to the end of the Pisa and Criffel Ranges...

It had been bothering me - just who was Reko? I knew the name and then I recalled he was the guide of Surveyor J.T. Thomson:

He persuaded Reko of Tuturau to guide him from Otago to Canterbury by an inland route. In September 1853, he, Reko and another Maori companion set off up the Mataura and the Nokomai valleys and over the hills to the Nevis and Kawarau valleys. They crossed the Kawarau River on the natural rock bridge and went downriver to the flats above Cromwell. They made their way to Wanaka and Hawea, before Chalmers, who was exhausted, gave up any idea of going further, and the group returned by raft down the Clutha River (McClymont 1959: 70). More on the New Zealand Dept of Conservation website

Thomson was an accomplished artist and I found a picture he made of a spooky crossing of the Mataura River with Reko on the web site

As we walked I asked Dougal to consider that there are people that want to dam this amazing river and drown the landscape. I think he had trouble grasping this and I guess age 16 has not given him enough time yet to ponder the losses I've seen...

I've paddled this river in a past life, camping on the way and that was adventure enough. It must have been something else for Reko, Thomson and Chalmers to build their own raft and head off, bobbing along at speed as the craft became water-logged, and not have much of a clue as to what lay ahead. On many stretches of the river it's really hard to get into the edge as boil ups keeping pushing upwards denying access...

Locally so many of us have concerns about ill conceived ideas to mess up this planet, rivers and all that we live on - and everyone is a local relevant to where they live, so in a wider and more global context take some time please to check out the movie "home"on youtube by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. It has beautiful imagery of our mother earth and commentary of our evolution into where we have brought our planet to today. It's free on the web for a few more days [and is a 1.4 Gb download so it is not a short one].

Last week I found some stellar GPS software for my iPhone for about $NZ7 so we tried it out alongside my old GPS and found it remarkably good - nothing like a good day to play with new toys!

Dougal thought it was funny that the map is courtesy of the US Navy - us being inland and all that. This screen shot is of Reko's Point - I wonder if this is where they built the raft, as it's too close to Lake Wanaka to be the first night's camping spot. The green "init" maker is a way-point the phone generates each time it's turned on...

And this week's head's up is to cousin Deirdre's Tininn Lodge site where she has posted photos of her grand daughter Aleisha doing some part time modeling.

Note: Phil Lloyd commented on posts relating to the Nevis Valley and gold mining, and has since been in touch via email. Here is his story:

"I spent two summer holidays in the 1970's with Lex Maclean and his parents working a goldmine just after the gorge in the upper Nevis. His parents were quite elderly even then and had moved to Milton after the population in the Nevis had dwindled away but they still came back to work the mine each summer.

I met up with Lex in Clyde last winter and he said they have no photos of those days, despite having many travellers call in and take photos.

I undertook to try to track down some of those photos but have had no luck so far."

If you can help Phil please contact him:

+64 9 573 0421 or

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Anonymous Marg said...

Im enjoying catching up with your latest posts around the clutha river. I'll get a chance to view it with fresh eyes next weekend when im on my last week for this current patch of work in queenstown. I've got permission to travel on a Sunday on the grounds of having an early start on Monday. So I'll take my time and make it a leisurely drive and make sure I take time to appreciate the river along the way. Thanks for your continued efforts to keep your readers informed.

June 17, 2009 at 5:50 PM  
Blogger Ruahines said...

Kia ora Donald,
I think it is great Dougal is walking with you alnog that beautiful river, and pondering its future. Kia kaha.

June 20, 2009 at 1:10 PM  

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